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Big Brothers Big Sisters teams up with Loblaw-owned stores for fundraising initiative

Rakhi bracelets were sold at 11 No Frills, Fortinos and Real Canadian Superstores

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Big Brothers Big Sisters found the perfect tie-on for an in-store fundraising initiative targeting South Asian consumers.

The organization’s Peel branch in Ontario created a campaign centred on Raksha Bandhan (commonly known as Rakhi), a festival that celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters.

Big Brothers Big Sisters created its own Rakhi bracelets, which are often used in the festival to symbolize the sibling bond. The bracelets were sold for $2 each at 11 No Frills, Fortinos and Real Canadian Superstore locations from Aug. 3 to 20.

The idea sprang from a roundtable discussion held last summer, as Big Brothers Big Sisters sought to raise awareness among the region’s growing South Asian population.

“It was brought up that there’s an interesting parallel between Rakhi being the celebration of the bond between brothers and sisters, and of course, Big Brothers Big Sisters,” says Angel Massey-Singh, vice-president of the board of directors.

One person on the panel had a connection at Loblaw and reached out to see if the retailer was interested.

“There are some efforts being made by Loblaw to reach out to South Asians, particular around more common festivals like Diwali, but nothing had been done around Rakhi,” says Singh. “They were quite taken by this idea of [celebrating Rakhi], coupled with the great benefit of giving back to a local charity in the community.”

The goal for Big Brothers Big Sisters was to raise awareness about the organization and increase donations from the South Asian community.

“Even though the volunteers and the children that we serve has changed [because of evolving demographics], the faces haven’t changed much in terms of the people who are donating to us and coming out to our events,” says Singh.

“We haven’t been able to tap into that community to really advertise what we’re doing and maybe get them to open up their wallets a little bit and help contribute to the programs that we offer.”

While the numbers aren’t in yet, Singh says the organization would like to run the program again next year.

“It’s a pilot and there are always things to be learned, but because the [Rakhi and Big Brothers Big Sisters] bridges quite nicely together, we definitely would like to see this happen again.”

One thing she would do differently next year is have more in-store materials to promote the fundraiser and educate shoppers outside of the South Asian community.

“We wanted to appeal to the South Asian shopper who likely already knows about [Rakhi] but also educate other people and make them feel that they could be included in this as well,” says Singh.

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